04 October 2018

Saving Private Gmail: How to Backup Your Gmail e-mail Messages

Saving Private Gmail

Gmail logo


As our smart phones replaced desktop computers for much of our daily communication,  Google's Gmail service made e-mail truly mobile and convenient.

If you have a Gmail e-mail address, it has probably become your main identity as you move about the internet. Gmail is nearly 15 years old now, and is embedded deeply into the lives of many users. 

Your Gmail e-mails are a document of your life that you should care about.  Emails to loved ones, perhaps containing photographs. Records of online purchases.  Business documents.  Your digital life is an important digital document that you may wish to preserve for posterity.

Recently, Google has made it easier for users to download their Gmail history as a MBOX file.  MBOX is an open format for bundling e-mail messages.  This article will show you how to download your Gmail e-mails, and then archive them in Encryptomatic's MailDex.  

MailDex is an email manager/archiver that lets you organize messages, even if they are stored as MBOX files, or Outlook PST or OST files, or individual EML or MSG files.  MailDex helps you make sense of not only your Gmail archive, but all of the e-mail files you've kept on USB drives over the years.

Sign into your Google account, and lets get started.


Downloading Your Gmail e-Mails

Step 1. Go to Google's Takeout page and select the data you want to export. If you only want to export your Gmails, click "Select None," then scroll down and select "Mail".


Screen shot showing how to select "All Mail" in Google Takeout to download your Gmail messages as a MBOX file.
Select Mail Option

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Next."

Step 2.  On the "Download your data" page, you can set the compression format for the Mbox file (tgz or zip).  Since the MBOX file with your Gmails will be quite large, Google compresses the file to save space.  Zip is the most common format and your computer probably already supports opening zip files.


Screen image: "Your account, your data. Export a copy."


You can also set the maximum size for the archived MBOX file before Google splits it into two or more archives.  The maximum selectable size is 50 GB.

Finally, choose how Google should deliver your Gmail archive.  You can receive an email to your Gmail address containing a link to download the file over https.  Other options including saving the file directly to your Google Drive,  Dropbox, OneDrive or Box.

Click "Create Archive" to continue.

Google responds with the message, "An archive of your Mail data is currently being prepared"


Please note that archives may take a long time (hours or possibly days) to create. You will receive an email when your archive is complete."



Screen image of Google email archive message.



Now watch for an e-mail to arrive in your Gmail account that looks like this:



Screen image of email with link to download Gmail MBOX file with email history.

Clicking "Download archive" will send you to the "Download Data" page.


Screen image of Google's Download Data page, where you can download a copy of your Gmail e-mails as a MBOX file.
Download Your Gmail Data
Click "Download" and save your file somewhere convenient.  

Congratulations! You've just made a complete backup of your Gmail history!

In the next article, we will show how to import that MBOX file and all of the e-mails it contains into Encryptomatic MailDex.

See you there!